The Google Assistant is the one truly unique feature that Allo — one of Google’s many chat apps — has going for it, and today Google is making the feature even more prominent.
In an update to Allo for Android today, Google is placing a button to access the Assistant right in the little box where you type out a message. Previously, you had to type “@google” in order to call up the Assistant. Pressing the button has basically the same effect, but it’ll save time and, perhaps more importantly, highlight the feature for people who may not know it exists.
Also new: GIF search and animated emoji
The new button is meant for bringing the Google Assistant into chats with other people, where it’s able to do a number of different things, including looking up sports scores, finding nearby restaurants, pulling up maps, and just generally accessing information that Google is already really good at highlighting. The Assistant itself isn’t getting any new features today — just easier access in chats with other people.
Alongside the Assistant button, Google is adding two other new features to Allo today. One is the ability to search for GIFs, which you can do by pulling up Allo’s emoji suggestion box and swiping all the way to the end of it. Google recently added the ability to type “@lucky” followed by a search term to automatically pull up a GIF, but, speaking from experiencing with Slack’s Giphy search tool, inserting GIFs without previewing them can be a bad idea, so maybe use this new method instead.
Allo is also getting some giant animated emoji today that spring to life when you enlarge them with the app’s “shout” feature. It looks like just a handful are animated so far (some of the commonly used faces), but giant stickers and sticker-like-things are the best part of any chat app, so any new animation sounds fun.
The updates begin rolling out on Android today and are supposed to come to iOS “soon.”